Aaron Judge’s free agency included surprising offer from New York Yankees rival

Aaron Judge
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

While it may not have reached the same level of fanfare as Shohei Ohtani’s free agency, Aaron Judge hitting the open market in 2022 caused plenty of intrigue. Few ever expected the New York Yankees superstar slugger to leave town, but that didn’t prevent teams from showing strong interest.

Judge ultimately signed a nine-year, $360 million contract to return to the Yankees, but we’ve only recently learned about an AL East division rival who pursued the former MVP too.

Tampa Bay Rays made ‘respectful’ contract offer to Aaron Judge

According to Kristie Ackert of the Tampa Bay Times, the Tampa Bay Rays offered Judge a 10-year contract worth roughly $300 million. Of course, this offer paled in comparison to the Yankees’ $360M agreement, but Judge still felt it was a respectful gesture.

“The Rays, that surprised me. And just because it was a divisional rival, and I’ve spent my whole career trying to game-plan against them. It was a very respectful (offer), and I appreciated that they reached out and that they thought enough of me to do that. And I respect their team. I respect what they have built here. They have a good club, and their team is tough. But it was so hard to think about (playing for them), because I’ve spent my whole career game-planning against them and trying to beat them.”

Aaron Judge on Tampa Bay Rays offer

It was previously reported that the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers also pursued the California native, but he never expected to hear from a division rival. The Rays aren’t typically known for being big spenders, especially in free agency, so the offer certainly came as a surprise.

It should also be noted that Judge and his wife have made the Tampa Bay area their home during the offseason, enjoying the Florida weather. He’s even been seen in attendance at Tampa Bay Buccaneers football games and Lightning hockey games during his downtime.

Seeing Judge return to the Yankees was always expected, but no one, not even the five-time All-Star himself, ever anticipated playing baseball in Tampa Bay.

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